[Screen It]


(1998) (Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild *Moderate None *Moderate
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Smoking Tense Family
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Comedy: A formerly awkward and geeky man tries to get back together with a woman he's never forgotten -- and whom he dated just once in high school -- thirteen years after last seeing her.
Ted Stroehmann (BEN STILLER) is an awkward and geeky high school student who gets lucky enough to go to his Rhode Island senior prom with Mary Jenson (CAMERON DIAZ). She's a gorgeous and sweet classmate who takes to him after he defends her large, but mentally challenged brother, Warren (W. EARL BROWN), from some other students. Moments after meeting her parents (MARKIE POST & KEITH DAVID) on prom night, Ted accidentally gets a certain part of his anatomy stuck in his zipper and is taken off to the hospital. After that, he never sees Mary again as her family subsequently moves to Florida.

Thirteen years later, Ted is a struggling magazine writer who still thinks about Mary every day. On the advice of his friend, Dom (CHRIS ELLIOT), Ted hires Pat Healy (MATT DILLON), a shady private eye, to find Mary and report back every detail about her life. Once in Florida, Pat discovers that Mary is still single and spends much of her time with her tanned and middle-aged neighbor, Magda (LIN SHAYE), and her small pet dog.

After spending some time spying on her, and noting that she's still as gorgeous and adorable as Ted explained, Pat falls for her. Returning to Rhode Island, however, he describes Mary in extremely unattractive terms, something that nearly derails Ted's interest in her. Nonetheless, Ted still gets up the courage and heads off to the sunshine state to find her.

Meanwhile, as Ted begins the long drive south, Pat has returned and is putting the moves on Mary. With his newly acquired knowledge of her past and her personal tastes, he immediately gets her to fall for him, something Mary's architect friend, Tucker (LEE EVANS), becomes suspicious of right away. Once Ted finally arrives and finds Mary, things quickly get out of hand as he, Pat, and an assortment of other men compete for Mary's affection.

If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of the previous Farrelly brother films, "Dumb and Dumber" and "Kingpin," they just might.
For strong comic sexual content and language.
  • BEN STILLER plays a former geeky guy who hires a sleazy private eye to track down the woman with whom he's obsessed, but hasn't seen in more than a decade. In one scene he masturbates, in another he fights with a dog hyped up on speed (obviously not meant to be taken seriously), he shares a joint with Mary, and he cusses some throughout.
  • CAMERON DIAZ plays an adorably gorgeous woman who works with the mentally challenged, has all sorts of men attracted to her, shares a joint with Ted, and cusses some.
  • MATT DILLON plays a sleazy private eye who lies to both Ted and Mary while trying to put the moves on the latter (and also cusses some).


    OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
    The movies written and directed by the brotherly filmmaking team of Peter & Bobby Farrelly will never be known for high brow wit or sophisticated humor. Their tastes run decidedly below the belt, and their efforts can best be described as crude, tasteless, raunchy and offensive to some or many viewers depending on the particular joke or situation they're delivering, exploiting, or poking fun at.

    Fortunately, their sense of humor is also occasionally outrageously funny -- as long as you don't mind its sophomoric, lowest common denominator approach -- and their latest effort, "There's Something About Mary," is yet another case example of their unique comedic style.

    Much like their earlier efforts, "Dumb & Dumber" and "Kingpin," this film isn't above finding or poking fun at any number of subjects, and at times provides some of the funniest stuff I've seen on the big screen in years. If you can picture The Three Stooges in a John Waters film, you'll begin to get an idea of what this film's about. Featuring some hilarious and over the top physical comedy, sight gags, and irreverent humor, the film will as easily amuse some as it will offend others.

    The plot -- written by the Farrelly's and Ed Decter and John J. Strauss -- isn't inherently outrageous as a story, but several individual scenes they've hung on it are uproariously funny. The opening prologue -- featuring Stiller as an awkward, unkempt geek with a mouth full of braces -- is clearly the best material in the movie.

    After an unexpected and mistakenly violent encounter with Mary's brother, Ted manages to catch a certain part of his anatomy in his zipper while in the bathroom. Sure it's childish, gross and decidedly immature, but when a succession of people tries to come to his aide, I have to admit that I (along with everyone else in the audience) haven't laughed so hard in the theater in a long time.

    Unfortunately, the humor quickly dries up as we move to the present, and for long periods of time nary a laugh is to be found, although several moments are amusing enough to keep things from getting too stale. It's not long, however, before another scene pops up-- this one featuring a character's efforts to revive a dog that's been over sedated -- that's sure to offend or upset some viewers, while causing others to grasp their stomachs from laughing so hard.

    That's pretty much how the movie proceeds for the rest of its near two hour length. Long stretches of little or failed attempts at humor permeate the film. Then, out of the blue, comes some outrageously gross, but often quite funny bits that easily stirred up the most response (both in laughter and exclamations of "That's so gross!") that I've heard from an audience in the past several years.

    Other moments, however, don't work as well as planned. Singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman periodically shows up throughout the film as something akin to a Grecian chorus -- where his musical interludes inform us of the plot's whereabouts. While the fact that Richman and his stoic drummer partner show up in the oddest of places is slightly amusing, the ditties themselves aren't as funny as one would expect for a movie like this.

    Likewise, the Farrelly's don't take a plot element -- that's identical to one in Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You" (where a male character wins the affection of a female by already knowing her likes and dislikes and then dropping lines of such dialogue when necessary) -- far enough in comparison to their other outrageous (and funny) material. In addition, an extended scene where Ted is mistakenly accused of being a mass murderer when he thinks he's being charged just for picking up hitchhikers didn't elicit many laughs from our audience.

    Not surprisingly, the performances in a movie like this aren't anything spectacular, but the leads are likeable enough to keep us interested. Other than the fact that her character should be bright enough to see through the shenanigans surrounding her, Cameron Diaz ("The Mask," "My Best Friend's Wedding") is a delight. Bubbly, outgoing and drop dead gorgeous, there's no surprise that every guy does have a thing for Mary.

    Ben Stiller ("Zero Effect," "Flirting With Disaster") is funniest in his early, mouth full of braces, horrible haircut days, but does elicit enough sympathy later on for us to root for his romantic dreams. Matt Dillon ("Wild Things," "In and Out"), plays an atypical (for him) funny character, but is also decent and is given enough funny lines and moments to make him a likeable comedic "villain."

    If you don't mind your comedy being raw, tasteless and probably offensive to some or many viewers, you'll probably get a kick out of this movie. Taking that into consideration, it does contain some of the funniest scenes to show up on the big screen in years, but unfortunately is also saddled with long periods of material that often don't work. You may (and then again, may not) laugh 'till your gut hurts several times, but you'll definitely wish the film were funnier overall. We give "There's Something About Mary" a 4.5 out of 10.

    Being a goofy, below the belt comedy, little, if any, of the material is meant to be taken at face value. Even so, here's a quick look at what occurs. Profanity is extreme with 40 "f" words, many others, and a large assortment of "colorful" phrases. Sexual humor abounds and includes a scene of a man masturbating, others scenes of implied oral sex, and an extended scene dealing with a man who's got his privates stuck in his zipper. The two main characters share a joint in one scene, and in others the "villains" give a woman's dog amphetamines and barbiturates (at different times).

    Beyond doing that to the dog, it's also electrocuted (trying to revive it, but also catching it on fire) and fought/wrestled with (in a slapstick fashion). Another brief joke involves a man being shot with a sniper rifle. Finally, the film also goes for some of its laughs at the expense of mentally and physically challenged people. Since many teens will probably want to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at the content if you're concerned about whether it's appropriate for them.

  • Ted and Dom drink beer.
  • Mary says that she wants to date a guy who'd go with her to a ball game and have beer, and later when she comments that she also wants a guy who's self employed, her friend asks, "Like a drug dealer?"
  • Pat drinks a beer while on a stakeout.
  • Ted has a beer when meeting Pat who orders a whisky sour, but is given a beer instead.
  • Other minor/background characters drink in a bar, outside a hotel, and in a strip club.
  • Pat feeds Magda's dog some spiked treats (with sedatives) so that the dog will like him and not attack him.
  • Dom drinks a beer.
  • Pat drinks a beer.
  • Mary has a beer.
  • Tucker gives Magda a bottle of some sort of liquor and says that he'd like to get Magda drunk so that he could give Mary "a good rogering" (presumably slang dealing with sex).
  • Dom and Ted drink from some little liquor bottles in their hotel room.
  • Ted and Mary have wine in a bar.
  • Pat and Tucker drink beer in a strip club.
  • Ted and Mary share a joint (marijuana).
  • Tucker and Pat throw speed-laced dog treats through the window for Magda's dog. It eats some, but one of them also lands in her cocktail (her eyes are closed) and she drinks it. Later, both she and her dog are very hyped up from being on speed.
  • Ted has a tiny bit of blood on his lip after Warren mistakenly attacks him.
  • We hear Ted peeing in the bathroom.
  • A long scene plays off the fact that Ted has caught a certain part of his anatomy in his zipper (at one point we eventually, but briefly see some flesh sticking out from the closed zipper) and everyone has to come in and look at it.
  • Dom gets progressively worse looking hives and blisters on his face and neck during the story.
  • We see a fishing hook that's impaled Ted's lip/face, but there's no blood.
  • During the end credit role some bird poop lands on Ted's face.
  • Being a goofy comedy, none of the following is meant to be taken too seriously or at face value.
  • Some may see the film's portrayal of the mentally & physically challenged, gays, etc..., that could be viewed as derogatory or being made fun of, as having both.
  • Some guys tell Warren (who's in high school and is looking for his ball) that girls call balls "wieners," so they get him to go up to another student and ask if she's seen his wiener.
  • As a private eye, Pat spies on Mary (especially when she's changing her clothes).
  • Pat lies to Ted about Mary (saying she's fat, has several kids with no husband, is in a wheelchair, etc...).
  • Later, he lies to Mary about being someone other than he really is, just to try to get her to fall for him. In doing so, he tells her that he works with "retards" and refers to one as "Mongo" (presumably short for mongoloid) and later all of them as "goofy bastards."
  • Pat feeds Magda's dog some spiked treats (with sedatives) so that the dog will like him and not attack him.
  • The film goes for some physical comedy at the expense of a guy who has to walk with short metal crutches, as he attempts to pick up his keys from the floor and goes through many physical contortions while trying to do so.
  • Pat cheats while playing checkers with Warren, and we later learn that he's a former murderer.
  • It turns out Tucker's also been lying to Mary about his real identity.
  • None.
  • Toy guns: Worn by Ted & Warren with a cowboy costume.
  • Sniper Rifle: Used by a friend of Magda's to shoot an irritating character (played for laughs).
  • Being a goofy comedy, none of the following is meant to be taken too seriously or at face value.
  • Phrases: "F*ck me,""Dipsh*t," "Eat sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Dumb sh*t," "Piece of sh*t,""Boning," "C*ck tease," and "Laid" (sexual), "Skirt," "Chick" and "Fox" (for women), "Loser," "Jerk," Kiss my ass," "Open up a can of woop ass," "Frank and Beans" (for penis & testicles), "Numb nuts," "Pisses," "Creeps," "Balls" (testicles), "Geez," "Cut the crap," "Schmuck," "Nuts" (crazy), "Retards" and "Goofy Bastards" (for mentally challenged people), "Idiots," "Schlep," "Pissing," "Dork," "Fart," "Take a piss," "Sucks," "Schmo," "Pissed," "Jerk," "Putz," "Jerking us around," "Dumb ass," and what sounded like "Bitch," "Blow me," and "Dirt butt."
  • Also, "Clean the pipes," "Choke the chicken," "Spank the monkey," "Flog the log," and "Blow his load" for masturbation.
  • Magda sprays hair spray on her dog.
  • Pat feeds Magda's dog some spiked treats (with sedatives) so that the dog will like him/not attack him. They end up momentarily killing the dog, so Pat then tries to give the dog CPR, and eventually takes the AC cord from a lamp, splits the line, and shocks the dog with electricity (like a defibrillator -- all used for laughs).
  • Later, Pat and Tucker throw speed-laced dog treats into Magda's room (which the dog eats and Magda unknowingly drinks).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 40 "f" words (1 used with "mother"), 27 "s" words (1 which is written), 9 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck," "pr*ck" and "c*ck"), 17 hells, 10 asses, 5 damns, 4 S.O.B.'s, 2 craps, and 5 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Jesus," 4 uses of "God," 2 uses each of "Oh God" and "Christ" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Oh Christ," "Oh Jesus," "For God's sakes" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • Being a goofy comedy, none of the following is meant to be taken too seriously or at face value.
  • Some guys tell Warren (in high school and who's looking for his ball) that girls call balls "wieners," so they get him to go up to a student and ask if she's seen his wiener.
  • Ted catches a glimpse of Mary in her bra (from a distance).
  • A long scene plays off the fact that Ted has caught a certain part of his anatomy in his zipper, and at one point we eventually see some flesh sticking out from the closed zipper. Embarrassed, Ted stays in the bathroom to which Mary's mom comments that he's been in there for half an hour and says, "I think he's masturbating."
  • Ted's psychiatrist tells him that interstate rest areas are "homosexual hangouts" but doesn't explain that any further.
  • A calendar pinup in Pat's office shows a woman whose breasts are mostly seen, all but for a tiny bit covered by some strands of the woman's long hair.
  • Pat asks Ted about Mary, "Did you knock the skirt up?" (referring to getting her pregnant and he didn't).
  • We see a lot of cleavage as Mary changes clothes (and Pat spies on her with binoculars), especially when she wears a sheer tank top and high cut underwear.
  • Referring to some guy, Mary jokingly says, "To hell (with the guy), I've got a vibrator."
  • Seeing Mary getting ready to pull off her top, Pat whips out his binoculars for a closer look, but instead gets a brief eyeful of Magda's older, sagging breasts (obviously faked), but we do also see the side of Mary's breast.
  • Ted goes to relieve himself in the woods when he trips over a man just as a police raid begins. Ted ends up kneeling at the crotch of a man in his underwear (as someone yells, "Hey, wait your turn) who was involved in some sort of group homosexual activity (we don't see anything).
  • While watching TV (of a live shot of the above), Dom notices Ted being arrested. As he makes a comment, his wife's head pops up from down in his lap (she was blocked from our view by the TV) suggesting she was having oral sex with him. After a moment, he pushes her head back down to his lap.
  • Some prison homosexuality is implied as we see a larger prisoner cuddled up to Ted in their bunk with his arm around him.
  • We partially see a friend of Pat's (played by Jeffrey Tambor) in his underwear.
  • Magda says that she used to have a banana split after sex, and then mentions when she has a Pap smear, the doctor needs "leather gloves and an oyster shucker" (or something like that).
  • Tucker (seemingly a British fellow) says that he'd like to get Magda drunk so that he could give Mary "a good rogering" (presumably slang dealing with sex).
  • Dom tells Ted that he needs to masturbate before going out with Mary (to ease his nervousness), but instead uses slang such as saying he needs to "Clean the pipes," "Choke the chicken," "Spank the monkey," "Flog the log," "Blow his load," and says that if he doesn't it's "like going out there with a loaded gun."
  • Heeding the above advice, Ted masturbates in the bathroom while looking at a newspaper ad full of lingerie models in their bras and underwear. While we don't explicitly see what he's doing (but do hear the accompanying sound as his hand is just out of the frame), we see his arm moving rhythmically as well as his pleasured facial expressions. He eventually climaxes, but then worries about the location of the ejaculate just as Mary knocks on the door. She then sees it hanging from his ear, confuses it for hair gel, and rubs it on her hands and then into her hair.
  • We see some skimpily dressed women in some sort of strip/exotic dancer club, but other than a lot of cleavage, don't see outright nudity.
  • Mary jokingly comments to Ted that she's bisexual.
  • Magda and an older man apparently have sex, and he later tells her, "I was only boning you to get to Mary."
  • During the end credit role, we see Dom coming up from a woman's lap (shot like an above scene and likewise implying oral sex).
  • During the end credit role, Pat feels Mary's clothed breasts, and we again see the obviously faked, old and droopy breasts of an older woman.
  • Magda smokes several times, while both Pat and Dom smoke cigars.
  • A student Ted asks to the prom smokes.
  • We see a brief shot of women rolling stogies in a cigar factory.
  • None.
  • That honesty is the best policy when in a relationship.
  • Making fun of people with mental or physical disabilities (the film does this somewhat).
  • Giving animals either sedatives or amphetamines (both are done to a dog in this film for laughs).
  • Being a goofy comedy, none of the following is meant to be taken too seriously or at face value.
  • A student, who thinks Warren is coming on to his girlfriend, pushes Warren around and then pushes Ted, who's come to his defense, to the ground.
  • Warren, who hates anyone touching his ears, grabs and attacks Ted after he does so, and then picks him up and throws him to the floor.
  • Some paramedics accidently drop Ted from a stretcher and he hits his head.
  • Pat uses the split AC power cord from a lamp as a defibrillator trying to shock Madga's dog (that he's sedated) back to life. While doing so, the electricity momentarily catches the dog's belly on fire.
  • There's talk of finding a body "all hacked up" inside Ted's car (from the hitchhiker he picked up), but we don't see any violence or gore.
  • A detective, mistakenly thinking that Ted is a serial killer, grabs his head and beats it onto a table several times.
  • Pat violently knocks down several people during a pickup game of football.
  • Warren punches Pat in the throat after he touches his ears.
  • Pat grabs Tucker and throws him against a car and then to the ground.
  • In a pure, but outrageous slapstick scene, Magda's dog -- which is hyped up on speed -- attacks Ted. He then violently wrestles and fights with it on the floor as it bites him (in the crotch among other places) and he slams it into the floor and across the room. Finally, it leaps at him, he ducks, and it flies out the window (and we later see the dog in a full body cast).
  • Warren is hit by a baseball in a bating cage (resulting in a black eye), and later is briefly on fire after crashing a go cart (that's also on fire).
  • A fish hook impales Ted's lip/face.
  • Ted punches Pat in the face.
  • A man shoots another man with a shot from a sniper rifle.

  • Reviewed July 9, 1998

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